DTH Technology Basics

Shaun H. Ruff

  • Direct-to-home technology uses geostationary satellites to re-direct or transmit back the signal received from the broadcast station to individual homes via the dish antenna.
  • The role of the satellite is to compress or pack the signals together digitally, encrypt the signals and finally beam back the signals to the home antennas. Since the satellite signals travel a long distance before they appear as a TV show on your television set, the compression of the signals is a prerequisite. Compression means removal of content that is monotonous, repetitive or redundant in nature.
  • DTH technology uses the Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) video file compression standards. Signal compression that the DTH service providers use in India is of the MPEG-2 and the MPEG-4 standard. Service providers like Dish TV, Tata Sky and DD Free Dish still use the MPEG-2 technology whereas the others have already upgraded to the MPEG-4 technology. For these three DTH providers shifting to the upgraded version will require viewers changing their set top box to be compatible with the higher standards. MPEG-4 enables each transponder to carry 50 Standard Definition channels as against MPEG-2 that could carry only about 20 SD channels.
  • A Digital broadcast system uses satellites to transmit signals of a particular frequency band whereas the Direct to Home system uses the satellite to transmit signals over a wide range of frequencies like the KU and KA band.
  • The dish antenna is a bowl-shaped surface with a central feed horn. Inside the feed horn is the low noise block down converter (LNB) that amplifies the signal, filters out the noise and passes the signal to the receiver inside the subscriber’s house. The receiver decrypts the encrypted signal, changes the compressed signal to analog format, pulls out separate channels from the signal and tracks the pay-per-view programs that the user is viewing and communicates the data to a backend computer for billing.
  • The DTH technology being a wireless process, its ability to reach even the inaccessible areas is guaranteed. It can reach areas whether it is remote rural areas or the urban areas on mountains.
  • DTH has opened the doors to access innumerable channels. As per statistics available, DTH enables viewing about 4000 channels in short it has helped the world come closer giving viewers free-hand in viewing contents from all across the world related to news, sports, entertainment, movies and lots more.
  • Direct interaction between the viewers and the service provider has been set with this technology. In case of issues related to DTH recharge or technical snags or any other complaints, the subscriber can reach the provider directly using the customer support service.
  • The content quality – audio or video is very high where the pictures are of the highest resolution possible. This is so because there are no intermediary in between the provider’s satellite and the viewers’ dish antenna.
  • The service provider never creates his own original programs. It pays other companies like HBO or Star TV to get the rights to broadcast their content via the provider’s satellite.

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